How to choose a book about bondage

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Dear Sex Counselor,

I’m curious about bondage, and I heard that you should read about it before you start doing it. With all the bondage books out there, how do I pick the one that will be best for me?


All of the bondage books we carry will give you enough information to begin your exploration of bondage. However, they each have their own perspectives and strengths. You’ll have to consider the format you like (lots of photos? step-by-step instructions? more text?), how thorough you want it to be, and what you want to use bondage for (Shibari, intercourse, decoration...). I’ll first give you some suggestions for books that serve particular purposes, and then give you a description of each book.

I want as much information as possible: I intend to become a bondage master!

Erotic Bondage Handbook is the most thorough bondage book we carry, period. It is especially thorough about safety considerations. Of the other bondage books, Shibari You Can Use gives you the most information.

I want something simple: I want to read it and get going!

Two Knotty Boys provides solid information in an easy-to-read format. Bondage for Sex gives you several specific ties you can read about and immediately use for sex.

I’m a visual learner. I want lots of pictures to guide me through the steps.

Two Knotty Boys has step-by-step color photos. Shibari You Can Use and The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage have step-by-step black and white photos/drawings. Bondage for Sex has step-by-step color photos, as well as full-page photos that make it suitable for the coffee table.

I want to understand some of the emotional and psychological underpinnings of bondage.

Shibari You Can Use and The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage both explore the different reasons people enjoy bondage, and what you can get out of it. They also discuss how to create a hot scene and provide good aftercare. Erotic Bondage Handbook has a good discussion of these topics as well.

I’m really interested in Shibari (Japanese-style Bondage).

The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage is the best choice if you want to learn what Shibari is and how to do it. If you just want the how-to part, Shibari You Can Use provides a lot of Shibari-style ties without the background or history.

I want to use bondage as part of having sex.

Bondage for Sex is all about bondage that allows you access to your partner’s body for intercourse. Two Knotty Boys has an entire section about this topic, too. All of the other books do show you ties that you can use for sex, but you will have to do a bit more digging to get to the specific information you want.

I don’t know what I want to use bondage for, so I’d like to see all the options I have.

Shibari You Can Use shows you everything from simple arm ties to rope corsets, so you can get plenty of ideas from that. It also discusses different reasons people enjoy bondage. Two Knotty Boys is organized into ties used for different purposes (basic, sex, dominance, and decorative), so that can help you explore different areas.

I’d like to learn how to tie knots.

Two Knotty Boys is the only book that shows step-by-step directions on how to tie different knots. Erotic Bondage Handbook also *tells* how to tie knots, but doesn’t *show* you with pictures.

I want to know how to make my own bondage rope.

Both Shibari You Can Use and The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage tell you how to condition your own hemp rope.

I’d like a book that focuses on all aspects of BDSM/sensation play/power play, but includes a section on bondage, too.

Take a look at Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns or SM 101.

I want some erotica to inspire me!

Most of the books in our BDSM Erotica section (plus many others) feature some bondage. Of particular interest: The Big Book of Bondage and Best Bondage Erotica.

Don’t any bondage books tell me how to do suspension?

Actually, no, and for good reason: suspension bondage (where the person tied up is suspended off of the ground) is much more dangerous than other kinds of bondage; it requires not only sophisticated knowledge of rope, the human body, and the physics of bondage, but also the careful instruction of an expert. Contact your local BDSM community if you want to find an instructor to teach you how to do suspension.

Tell me more about the books you sell!

Bondage for Sex, volume 1
The beautiful, large, full-color photos make this book stand out; it’s as much visually arousing as it is informative! The author works from the premise that sex is a vital part of bondage, and there isn’t enough information out there that’s strictly about bondage and sex. This book aims to do just that: it illustrates specific ties that can be used to restrain your partner in such a way that they can enjoy oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse while they are restrained. Many of the positions are meant for the restrained partner to be penetrated, but some will work for the restrained partner to be the one doing the penetrating. Both male and female models are shown.

For each tie, she tells you how to tie it, points to consider, and variations for different purposes. Ties include "Spread Eagle," "Crab Tie," "Open-Leg Pile Driver" and more. Other topics include: talking to your partner about your interest in bondage, setting limits, establishing consent and safe-words, and general safety measures.

This is a good choice if you want to learn specific ties to use during sex. It’s not a great choice if you want to learn the basics or building blocks of bondage, or if you’re interested in bondage for a reason other than penetrative sex. It’s an excellent choice if you want lots of pictures, and if you want a book that’s visually appealing and erotic in addition to being instructional.

Jay Wiseman’s Erotic Bondage Handbook
Everything (and we do mean *everything*) you ever wanted to know about how to tie someone up, restrain them to a bed or themselves. More text heavy than other bondage books, it includes everything from choosing rope and basic knots to all sorts of bondage techniques and special equipment. A unique feature of this book is the thorough safety information. Wiseman discusses risk factors and warning signs, the challenges of self-bondage, silent alarms and safe words, and much more, so that you can explore bondage safely and comfortably! He also goes over a wide variety of bondage ties and positions, from single-limb ties to hog-ties, explaining the uses and benefits of each one.

This is an excellent book to read *before* you start exploring bondage, as well as an indispensable resource for the more advanced. It isn’t a quick read, so if you’re looking for something with just the basics you’ll want to try one of our other bondage books.

Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage
This book provides great information about rope and ties, plus some unique features you won’t find in other bondage books. For example, Midori begins the book with an overview of Japanese Rope Bondage: its history, its appeal in the West, and its aesthetics. She also includes a hot story that describes a bondage scene, and then analyzes it step-by-step to give you an idea of how to incorporate the lessons from the book into a scene (and make it hot). She also does a good job of discussing aftercare.

There’s a thorough discussion of different kinds of rope, how to condition your own hemp rope, and a variety of different ties, which are described step-by-step with black-and-white illustrations. There’s a description of what each tie is useful for, as well as any challenges it might pose. There are several beautiful full-color photographs throughout the book.

This book is enjoyable to read and quite well-written, with wit and insight. Midori does an excellent job of explaining the emotional and psychological as well as the physical aspects of bondage. The language is generally gender-neutral. This would be an excellent choice if you want to know how to create a scene as well as how to tie your partner. It’s also a good choice if you’re specifically interested in Shibari, and you want a good understanding of its underpinnings.

Shibari You Can Use
This book is highly informative with an upbeat, "can-do" attitude. The author emphasizes that rope bondage is neither difficult nor mysterious: it’s something *you* can actually do, and he wants to show you how! Whether you want to do bondage for power exchange, role-playing, art, meditation, sex, you name it, there is something here you can use.

In the introduction, he discusses safety issues, why people might do bondage, how to negotiate with partners, and good things to have on hand during a scene. There’s also a discussion of aftercare, including different reactions people have to coming out of rope. He discusses many different kinds of rope: their pros and cons, smell, texture, and "burn." There are also step-by-step instructions to condition your own hemp rope, how to maintain and clean rope, and a list of good lengths to have on hand.

Following this are step-by-step, illustrated instructions for different ties. Lee goes over "one column" and "two column" ties, chest harnesses, rope corsets/erotic macrame, and crotch ropes. The photos are great (although small and black-and-white), and show a lot of happy bondage models of different body types and genders. Some highlights: different chest harnesses to use on women with larger and smaller breasts, a rope strap-on, lovely rope corsets, and much more!

All in all, a thorough, upbeat book that offers a lot of versatility and plenty of ideas to spark your creativity!

Two Knotty Boys
This excellent, well-organized book uses simple language and a fun attitude to teach you how to tie knots and do bondage. It’s one of few bondage books that provides thorough information on knot-tying, with both basic and decorative knots covered.

Each section of the book is short and easy to read while still giving you a solid overview of the topic. It begins with a discussion of safety, the pros and cons of a few common types of rope, plus general rope care. The majority of the book is devoted to different types of bondage, separated into Basic, Decorative, Dominance, and Sex Bondage. Each tie has step-by-step illustrated directions, along with the pros and cons, when to use it, and recommended rope length and diameter. There are 4-7 examples of each kind of bondage, giving beginners a taste of what they can use bondage for, and giving readers with different interests information they can use. There’s also a brief glossary and list of resources for further reading.

This is an excellent choice for both beginners and advanced rope artists who want a book that’s very easy to understand and to put into practice. The many pictures and well-organized text make it great for visual learners. This is not a good choice for anyone who wants information on how to "do" a scene, or on the psychological aspects of and motivations for doing bondage. It’s best for someone who knows they are interested in bondage and just needs the practical information to get them going.